Budget Build to run 3D Animation Software?


Sep 7, 2011
Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month or so.

Budget Range: $200-$300 After Rebates (for additional parts)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: ONLY use is for Autodesk 3D Animation Software such as Maya, 3D Max, Motionbuilder, Mudbox, and Softimage

Parts Not Required:
keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers,
OS Windows 7 Pro 64bit
Case Azza Orion 202
PSU Corsair 400W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139008 )
RAM Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
HDD Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
GPU EVGA GeForce GT 240 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP

Preffered Website(s) for Parts: usually newegg.com, frys.com, tigerdirect.com or whereever it's cheapest.

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Undecided

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: probably just 1024x768 for now, maybe higher later.

Additional Comments:
I'm building this for my son who will be learning to make 3D animated movies using Autodesk's Entertainment Suite. He's NOT using this to play games.
So basically I need Mobo and CPU. I need to do this as inexpensively as possible. So here's my questions:
What's most important for using this type of software?
Which would be better for this application: Phenom II X6 1035t (2.6 ghz), Phenom II X4 945 (3.0 ghz), or Phenom II X2 565 (3.4 ghz)?
It seems like w/ AMD you get more bang for your buck on the budget end - is there some advantage to going with Intel (overclocking, etc.)
How important is RAM speed? Should I sell the 1333 and buy 1600?
How important is the GPU? Should I sell the 240GT and upgrade?
What do I look for in the motherboard that could make things faster (or help w/overclocking, etc.)?
Does having a seperate drive (small SSD or velociraptor) for the OS and programs speed up the Autodesk software?
Where's the bottleneck going to be?

Thanks for your input.
Where's the bottleneck going to be?

For rendering, the bottleneck is the CPU. For playing the animations, the bottleneck is the GPU. It's more important to have a higher end CPU than GPU in this type of setup because the rendering process, which is CPU intensive, can be very time consuming.


Feb 27, 2011
Core for core, clock for clock , intel has a clear advantage in Multimedia ,encoding and rendering
If you are building twith AMD then the extra cores of the X6 offset intels advantage and you can build a great machine using Phenom

The Intel option is to is an i5 quadcore and an H67 motherboard .

Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost $190

ASRock Z68M/USB3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 $95

Have a look in the charts section of this site and see how the AMD compares for performance and price
Snag the $125 special on the AMD Phenom II X6 1035T Thuban 2.6GHz <<----- ends 09/12/2011

Otherwise, for a 'learning-budget' build, let's face it, a PhII dual-core is a great place to start learning the ropes, might well unlock for you, and can save $30. You might also consider the AMD Athlon II X3 450 Rana 3.2GHz for $68! (definitely my choice if budget is in the conversation).

The Cooler Master 'Hyper' series of CPU coolers is $30 for a 120mm or $20 for a 90mm -- either would work well for a little over-clocking. Additional fans may be purchased for a 'push-pull' configuration if you wish to go 'Pro' (with the help of THG, of course) with your over-clocking.

As far as the motherboard, it is a tough call. You would normally select the motherboard first and then choose your RAMs from the qualified vendor list, so my first inclination would be to first sell yours RAMs and purchase qualified sticks for your specific motherboard.

My second inclination is to suggest not going 'budget' on the motherboard (though AM3+ motherboards which support the impending AMD Bulldozers can be found at a low price) since an OEM operating system will be keyed to it. The Gigabyte GA-990XA-UD3 AM3+ AMD 990X works in your overall budget and will suit your upgrade needs for quite some time.

And it should take that x3 Rana to 3.8-4GHz with good cooling [:jaydeejohn:5]


His max budget is $300 . The sandybridge quad and motherboard is $285
It is almost certainly the best performance option and will work well with all the other parts he currently uses

Perhaps you cant count?


Sep 7, 2011
I much prefer to stay closer to the $200 mark if I can. The AM3+ Mobo sounds like a good option for upgrading later if I go with an AMD.

Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) $190
AMD Phenom II X6 1100T 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo) $190

My understanding of the Core i5-2400 is that it has limited overclocking capablities.
Also the X6 has 2 more cores, faster clock speed and double the L2 cache per core.
Is there something about Intel CPU's that I'm not aware of?
"Core for core, clock for clock , intel has a clear advantage in Multimedia ,encoding and rendering"
What about dollar for dollar? I honestly don't know - but AMD's numbers look better.
As far as comparing them on the charts, I don't care about overall benchmarks - I only care about Autodesk 3D animation benchmarks.

Also, I'm hearing that RAM speed and a boot drive aren't that crucial.

I'm not sure about going with the X6 1035 because of the 2.6ghz speed. Would all 6 cores be utilized all the time in 3d animation or would there be times it would lag using only 2 cores? or would a faster X4 be better?
For example:
AMD Phenom II X6 1035T 2.6GHz $140 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103856
AMD Phenom II X4 970 3.5GHz $140 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103894

For the GPU:
When I look up the GT 240 and compare it to the GTS 450 here: http://www.gpureview.com/show_cards.php?card1=634&card2=619 what is most important for 3D animation - core clock, memory bandwidth, shader operations, pixel fill rate, texture fill rate, vertex operations?


Sep 7, 2011
Actually it looks like the I5 comes out on top in most of the 3dsmax benchmarks - it's lower where "lower is better" and higher where "higher is better" however . . .
It looks like they were using an older version of 3DsMax (version 9). My understanding is that the 2011 version is now able to use up to 6 cores whereas previous versions were not (I read this on a forum somewhere, but I don't remember where).

Any thoughts?


Sep 7, 2011
Another note:
For Autodesks recommended system requirements for 3ds Max 2012 (this is what I'll be downloading) go to:
I don't really understand all the stuff about Direct 3D 10, etc and SSE2 technology and Shader Model 3.0.

I think you read correctly.

Anand pulled the same stunt ... errrr, has a propensity to not show AMD in a very positive light against Intel.

Same with not using CineBench 11.5 with the Thuban x6 benchmarks because it performs quite well against Intel -- v10 casts Intel in a more 'positive' light

The 1090T x6 goes on sale for $150-$160 every week or so, and I'm hoping it will drop to the $140-range when Bulldozer comes out in a few weeks. For flat-out GFLOPs it can't be beat at $160, much less $140.

Memory speed and timings can have quite a substantial impact. Another favorite AMD tweak to improve performance is to increase the speed of the IMC/NB.

For each 10% you increase the IMC/NB speed, memory bandwidth is increased 3-4% and latency is reduced 3-4%. A 20% increase at stock NB volts is pretty much a 'slam-dunk'. Enthusiasts are now taking the IMC-NB over 3000MHz from stock 2000MHz, though there seems to be a point of diminishing returns beyond 2600MHz or so.

I don't really understand all the stuff about Direct 3D 10, etc and SSE2 technology and Shader Model 3.0.

Direct 3D is an 'API' associated with operating system and video card -- the 'Shader Model' is video card, too.

SSE2 is a processor "SIMD' instruction set -- this should not be a performance issue until AutoDesk moves to the much more modern SSE4.x and the AVX instruction sets.



Sep 7, 2011
Thanks Everyone, this is great info. I'm still unclear on one thing though.
Which is more essential for programs like 3ds Max or Maya - # of cores or speed?
Such as:
AMD Phenom II X6 1035T 2.6GHz
AMD Phenom II X4 970 3.5GHz
that is a SIGNIFICANT core speed difference there. a note on the 960, however, is they are 6-cores with 2 cores disabled...you might luck out and be able to unlock the disabled cores (no guarantees, often its a 50-50 shot)

alternately, get a 955 at $119 (just 4 cores on it), and increase its multiplier to match the 970 with ease.

The x6 ...

AMD Turbo will boost up to 3 cores to 3.1GHz to assist tasks which are not threaded to take advantage of 6 pure cores.

Here's how it works: The AMD system clock is 200MHz and the 1035T at stock runs 13x200MHz. AMD Turbo bumps the CPU multiplier to 15.5x200MHz across a maximum of 3 cores. It's that simple. It also makes over-clocking a great deal of fun.

The basics: All the major components of the motherboard run off the system clock using multipliers and dividers. Some of the components you want to keep close to spec (your memory, PCIe, and the HT, or Hyper Transport). You may feel free to cut loose on the CPU and Integrated Memory Controller/North Bridge, or IMC/NB.

You simply lock the PCIe to 100MHz, crank up the system clock, and then lower or raise the appropriate multiplier or divider. Give a few items some slight volt bumpage for stability, and that's it. In fact, slight over-clocking may not require any volt bumps at all.

Now I'm going to blow your mind: There are sweet spots, and depending upon where you may like to take your over-clocking, you need to plan ahead. First off. don't worry about your system clock. Any decent motherboard will clock higher than your CPU will go (even with liquid nitrogen :ouch: ) so don't worry about that - LOL

The way the memory dividers work there are sweet spots with the system clock. At 250MHz, DDR3 1333 (or stock 6.67x200MHz) is your friend. At 240MHz, it's DDR3 1600 (or stock 8.00x200MHz).

With DDR3 1600 you simply drop the divider one notch to 6.67 and raise the system clock to return your RAMs to stock spec speed ..... 6.67x240MHz = ??? :D

With DDR3 1333 you drop the divider to 5.33 ... x250MHz = ??? [:jaydeejohn:5]

There is no end to potential combinations if you put your math-mind to work. DDR3 1866 (stock divider 9.33x200MHz) has a sweet spot at 8.00x233MHz to return the memory to spec speed.

Drum-roll, please ... think about the CPU Turbo multiplier with the adjusted system clock [:crutchizm]

Could be some big fun breaking out!